Ready to Learn More About Forgiveness?
As the old saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” But forgiving is easier said than done. In fact, it is one of the hardest things to do in life. At some point in your life, you may have gone through a situation that left you feeling hurt, downtrodden, and disheartened.
You may have been unfairly victimized and undermined or someone might have sabotaged your plans. The feelings of betrayal and disloyalty may gnaw at your joy and peace and eventually affect the quality of your life.
Whether you like it or not, people will wrong you – it’s inevitable. You may also hurt yourself and others. You cannot expect to be forgiven if you don’t forgive. Forgiveness helps you to lead a healthy life and improves your relationships. Through forgiveness, we let go of grudges and bitterness which breed resentment, anger, and thoughts of retaliation against our offenders.
What is Forgiveness?
While forgiveness has been defined in many ways, this is the best forgiveness definition: It is changing your attitude and feelings about an offense, letting go of negative feelings, and wishing your offender well. However, forgiveness is not to be confused with condoning, forgetting, or excusing. In other words, we change our perception about the person and what has occurred.
Forgiveness is a choice, a decision to rid yourself of bitterness and the weight of resentment. This does not mean forgetting the act that put you in your current state, it means accepting that it happened and choosing to let go.
In the ideal world you would let it go to such a degree that you truly do not recall the pain or perhaps even the situation. What is the value of holding on? What is the value recalling the pain? When you are committed to feeling more joyful you will find that when you let it go, you really let it go.
Conversely, forgiveness does not absolve the offender of his or her responsibility in hurting you; neither does it justify the offense. Even without excusing the offense, you can avail forgiveness to others and embrace the joy and peace that comes with letting go of bitterness.
Have you ever done or said something that in retrospect you wish you had not? Have you ever unintentionally hurt someone? This happens in life and when you are aware of this you can choose a more compassionate perspective instead of a victimized one.
What You Gain Through Forgiveness
Forgiving has numerous physical and psychological benefits. It also enhances your interpersonal relationships: Some of its gains include:
- It lowers blood pressure
- It eliminates depression and sadness
- It raises self-esteem
- It boosts cardiovascular health
- It improves the immune system
- It enhances spiritual well-being
- It alleviates feelings of hostility, stress, and anxiety
- It empowers you to acknowledge your pain; helps you to realize that pain does not define you
- It allows you to heal
- It encourages effective conflict resolution and creates stronger and more fulfilling relationships especially between family members and spouses
- It reduces stress
- It supports non resistance which allows for greater flow and increased peace
Letting Go Of Past Hurts Is the Only Way to Move Forward
Like many people, you may think that forgiving is a show of weakness, the inability to take a stand and fight for your rights. You may feel that forgiving will encourage the wrongdoer to persist in perpetrating similar acts to others. Some people believe that forgiveness does not give the offender a chance to pay for their acts, especially in a situation where the offended is incapable of revenging. You may also feel that pardoning the offender inhibits accountability. But all these are misconceptions.
When you fail to forgive, you miss living life because:
- You feel that your life is meaningless
- You remain stuck in the past and cannot enjoy the present or anticipate a bright future
- You sever links with others as the negative feelings you hold onto keep you from interacting positively with them
- You suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem
- You see yourself as the victim and think you’re powerless
- You feel alone, angry and resentful, none of which feel good
How to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You
Forgiveness is a process that requires effort. While the person may have hurt you intentionally, you have to decide to let bygones be bygones. Know that things always work out in the end. Even if you never get an apology, the person may go through the same experience one day.
To get started on the journey of forgiveness, you should:
- Realize that by playing the victim, you relinquish power over your life, and the offender controls your life
- Consider the importance of forgiving and the benefits it brings to your life such as love, joy, and peace
- Choose to forgive when you are ready and not due to external pressure
- Confirm whether your failure to forgive is due to an overreaction to the situation and whether it improves the situation in any way – you know it doesn’t
- Ask yourself, “Do you want to be right or happy?”
Forgiveness does not require reconciliation or condoning repeat offenses. Your offenders do not need to repent to receive your forgiveness and neither do you need to inform them that you have forgiven them. Forgiveness does not let the offender off the hook, but you should not manipulate or deny them forgiveness when they need it so that you feel powerful.
How to Forgive Yourself
Ironically, forgiving yourself is harder than forgiving others. You may find it hard to forgive yourself for inflicting pain, treating yourself badly, or after failing. You may have cheated in a relationship, become addicted to a drug, or hurt your kids with harsh words.
Going through life constantly reviewing your misdeeds and beating yourself up may eventually lead to a significant drop in the standard of your life and you may end up hating yourself. When we feel badly about ourselves we treat others poorly which increases are low self-esteem and self-criticism.
To forgive yourself, you should identify what you did that requires forgiveness. Realize that you are human and prone to err. If you find it hard to forgive yourself, you can try seeing a therapist to help you overcome the feelings of self-loathing and resentment you harbor.
Being angry with yourself – particularly when you have been betrayed – may protect you from similar situations in the future as you will exercise extra caution. However, the caution should not hamper you from living actively and happily and from taking chances in life.
Take the time to focus on all of the good things that you have done and are doing. To really help deepen this awareness is a great idea to write all of the things that you love about yourself as well as all your accomplishments from as far back as you can remember. Read these every day and remind yourself about the truth of who you are which is not a few minor frailties that you may have exhibited at one time or another.
Remember that what you think about the most and where you put your energy is what you are going to experience in your life.
Forgiveness is a gift, not only to others but also to yourself. As corrosive resentment eats away at your peace and joy, the offender goes on with their life, oblivious to your pain. You owe it to yourself to reclaim power over your life and live a fuller life. Make a decision to practice the virtue that is forgiveness. Take back your life and find the peace and joy you deserve.
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.